Jesus makes the first move.
“He does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude.” – St. Therese of Lisieux
I was born into a Catholic family and through catechism, I learnt the basics of my faith. Although I served in the choir ministry and thought that I had sufficient knowledge of my faith, I always felt there was something more to the faith than I knew. After Confirmation at age 15, I decided to join the youth community in my parish. I figured that if I wanted to experience more, I would have to continue to grow in my faith. Community life was not as easy as catechism lessons. I fumbled, having had to open up to strangers for the first time and meeting people of different backgrounds.
I grew in knowledge but at the same time, my faith life was tumultuous. I knew how a faith life should be lived, but living it was difficult. I also experienced the highs and lows of attending retreats. This coming and going from God dulled my enthusiasm to know Him. Why try when I know I will fail yet again? This built up a wall between God and me. When I wanted to come back to God, I felt like I needed to make the first move to break down that wall.
Subsequently, I left for the UK for my undergraduate studies. My faith became increasingly unsteady without much support. However, when I came back to Singapore during my holidays, I began attending events at OYP. One of these events was the Combined University Retreat (CUR2018). Most students were from the Singapore universities and I was in awe of the Christ-centred Catholic communities here. I was also envious of what they had – compared to what I had in the UK (small parishes with a handful of old ladies), I wished I had studied in Singapore.
However, in my second year of university, OYP established the community of students in Europe (Singapore Catholic Students in Europe Community) in a more concrete way. We had activities and retreats across our summer break. We also have cell groups for when we return to university throughout the term. Through attending the Combined Freshman Retreat (CFR2019), I was able to build relationships with fellow students studying abroad as I listened to their testimonies. I realised that living out my faith in the UK is not as difficult as I had initially thought it would be. I also realised that through OYP, CFR and the Europe Community, Jesus has made the first move and is drawing me back to His people and His Church. I need only continuously say ‘yes’ to Him and He will do everything else.
I am looking forward to the new year in university in the UK, journeying with my new community. I look forward to what God has in store for me and I pray that many other students studying overseas or in universities without Catholic communities will come to find a community here at OYP and discover God’s love again!
Praise God for His love and mercy!
Natasha Wong, SG Catholic Students in Europe